Giving the Gift of Flavor

I love giving food-related gifts during the holiday season. They are fun for everyone, from food connoisseurs to your friend whose idea of cooking is boiling water for pasta. I try to give gifts that are tasty, healthy and encourage the recipient to try something new. While everyone indulges a bit over the holidays, it’s great to help others prevent cancer through healthier food and fitness-related gifts.

One of my favorite ways to flavor and season vegetables is also turning into one of my favorite gifts to give. Working with individuals trying to lose weight, I often hear people talk about how much they dislike vegetables. Flavored balsamic vinegar and olive oil can change that.

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Why olive oil? It’s rich in antioxidants and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, and including it in your diet can help lower your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. However, since olive oil is also high in calories, highly flavorful oils – like lemon or walnut – can boost the taste of your food with small amounts. Continue reading


Study Sheds Light on Key to Cutting Sodium, Not Flavor

If you’re anything like the average American, you’re consuming way too much sodium.  You may have tried to kick the habit, but found that you just don’t like the taste of low sodium foods as much.

A recent study published in the journal Appetite may help. Researchers split about 150 participants into three groups to test how much they liked three soups over repeated tastings: a standard tomato soup, a low sodium Collection powder spices on spoons in wooden table surface top v
tomato soup, and a low sodium tomato soup seasoned with herbs and spices.

On the first day of the study, everyone tasted samples — about two tablespoons each — of all three soups. For the next three days, participants ate larger portions of their one assigned soup. On the last day, all three groups again sampled small portions of the three soups. Participants rated how much they liked each soup every day.

Results from the study suggest three strategies that can help you cut back on sodium without sacrificing flavor:

  • Find the blend that you like best.  Before beginning the study, researchers tested three different herb and spice blends to add to the low sodium soup: blends were based around basil, cumin and coriander, or oregano. No one blend was a clear favorite among participants overall, but individual participants had definite preferences. The lesson is to find the herb and spice blend that you prefer.

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Is your city getting healthier? It can help prevent cancer

Memphis is getting more dog parks; San Antonio has slightly lowered its death rate from diabetes, and in Orlando, the percent of residents walking or biking to work has nudged upwards, according to a new trends report released today. These cities — all ranked among the least fit cities in the United States — are among the 50 largest US metropolitan areas that the report highlights key health and fitness changes over the past five years.canstockphoto16502958

The report by the The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) analyzes health behaviors and community environment, many both directly — and indirectly – relate to cancer prevention.

Health behavior indicators included looking at how many vegetables and fruits residents ate, how active they were in the previous month, and if they were smokers. Then the authors gathered data on chronic health problems of the residents, such as the percent of residents that were obese, and/or diagnosed with diabetes, asthma and heart disease.  Environmental indicators of good health included the numbers of recreational centers, parks, tennis courts and farmer’s markets were in the city. Continue reading